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Paramount+: A streaming powerhouse with limitless entertainment

Paramount+ is a treasure trove of streaming entertainment for a global audience. 

With a click, swipe, or voice command, viewers have instant access to iconic films like “The Godfather” and “Top Gun”, television classics like “Star Trek” and “Survivor,” and modern hits like “Yellowstone,” “1883,” and “Halo.” 

In addition to its immense library of filmed entertainment, Paramount+ also brings the excitement of live sports straight to consumers. Whether watching on connected televisions, web browsers, or mobile devices — and sometimes switching between them — viewers watched UEFA soccer, March Madness, the NFL, college football, and a variety of other sports this past year. This includes the 2024 Super Bowl LVIII, the most watched event in recent history with 123.4 million viewers across all platforms and the most-streamed Super Bowl in history, led by a record-setting audience on Paramount+.

In order to provide a global audience with streaming content available 24/7 — with huge demand spikes during those major live events — Paramount+ needed a robust technology stack that could provide speed, agility, security and global reach with zero downtime. To meet these diverse technology challenges, Paramount Global chose Google Cloud as the platform on which to build its streaming future. 

Zero downtime was not only a technical goal but also the commitment to the business team to ensure subscribers can get consistent and seamless experience. Serving global subscribers requires robust architecture running on a scalable platform along with a well-trained team.  

The tech behind the curtain: Paramount+ and Google Cloud 

The technology stack for Paramount+ had many components specially tailored to the needs of media and entertainment. The team adopted a services-based architecture powered by Google Kubernetes Engine (GKE) for flexibility, stability, scalability and quick updates. This allowed the team to improve development and operational velocity and performance. 

Subscriber growth and fast changing business needs led to exploring different Google Cloud services including Google Cloud Compute Engine, Bigtable, Pub/Sub, Cloud Ops Suite, Network Intelligent Center and Cloud Armor to streamline technical operations. The architecture team, in collaboration with Google Cloud engineering, evaluated different products that could support the business SLA and security needs.  

Security and service availability is critical for any customer-facing applications. In order to prevent DDoS attacks from disrupting the streaming experiences of tens of millions of users, Paramount+ uses the Google Cloud Armor Managed Protection along with other industry standard security tools. And to ensure zero downtime across its global platform, the Paramount+ technology team applied the DevSecOps process to architecture to integrate security from the start of the development process. 

To help ensure smooth operation and rapid updates, they adopted Site Reliability Engineering (SRE) practices in collaboration with Google Cloud. This approach hinges on automation, testing, proactive monitoring, and seamless teamwork. In addition to adopting SRE practices, the Paramount+ technology team utilizes a multi-zonal approach for resilience. This ensures true geo-redundancy, an active-active configuration that spans multiple Google Cloud regions. Through this strong partnership, Paramount+ is able to ensure exceptional performance, especially during high-traffic events like the Super Bowl.

Paramount+ engineers partnered closely with Google Cloud to establish guiding principles for this complex migration:

Multi-regional journey: Paramount+ and Google Cloud teams collaborated for more than a year to ensure their infrastructure can scale into multiple regions. This journey happened without taking any downtime or downgrading end-user experience. The Paramount+ team is able to ensure that adding a new region should take only a matter of days, not years. Paramount+ had already adopted stateless principles to ensure optimal scale and usage of Google Cloud resources prior to becoming multi-regional. This strategic shift helped prepare Paramount+ to deliver a seamless experience while ensuring security and zero data loss.

Scalable architecture: Paramount+ has adopted a distributed database running across multiple regions to ensure data consistency. Paramount+ and Google Cloud strive to maintain elasticity in the architecture to handle spiky traffic either during live events or for serving hit shows. This ensures the infrastructure can be both easily pre-scaled and autoscales. In addition to CI/CD principles, the Paramount+ team is also adopting a blue-green deployment approach to provide consistent experience to the end user and reduce risk.

Regional independence: Bringing services closer to users while mitigating any natural disaster that may interrupt services was critical. This active-active multi-regional enabled Paramount+ to support a high number of daily active users and unprecedented amount of traffic during large sporting events. There is a strict policy to ensure that no region is dependent on any other region. This goes all the way from the content delivery network (CDN) to the databases. Paramount+ team has ensured that adding or removing scale in a region does not impact the overall end-user experience.

Operational consistency: The Paramount+ SRE team set the standard guidelines and process to keep the regions homogenous for simplified management and addressing the business needs in timeline fashion. Consistent processes around security, audit, and deployment were put in place so that end users don’t have to know anything about the regions. 

Strict objectives: The team had a goal to meet aggressive recovery-time-objective (RTO) and recovery-point-objective (RPO) targets. Having a strict service-level agreement and delivering on it was a critical aspect for supporting 71 million subscribers and having truly 24/7 streaming services. Strict SLAs ensured zero downtime, low latency, and robust monitoring and observability framework so the team could proactively address any issues that may impact end users.

Migrating to a multi-region setup meant rethinking deployment processes, automation tools, and the entire underlying database, all while upholding the established RTO and RPO. By working with Google Cloud, Paramount+ was able to transition from a multi-zonal architecture to an active-active multi-regional architecture and build on its world-class streaming service.

The future is bright

The media landscape is dynamic, and Paramount+ has adapted with a technology platform that has scaled to their global audience. Achieving broadcast quality across platforms and devices is non-trivial, and the teams work hard to achieve this in close collaboration with the Google Cloud team. 

With this foundation, Paramount+ aims to continue optimizing and innovating with new technologies, like generative AI, all the while keeping viewers entertained without interruption and delivering a world-class customer experience.

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